It’s not a shock that former Cleveland coach and former Spurs assistant Mike Brown is returning to the NBA after a season away.
But it’s a little surprising that he apparently is , according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Lakers are the biggest of the big-boy jobs in the league.
Brown led Cleveland to a league-best 61 victories last season before the Cavaliers were eliminating in the Eastern Conference semifinals by Boston. That collapse led to Brown’s eventual dismissal and LeBron James leaving that franchise for Miami.
During the season before, Brown earned the NBA’s Coach of the Year honors after leading them to a league-best 66-16 record. He earlier took the Cavaliers to the 2007 Finals where they lost to the Spurs. His .663 career winning percentage ranks sixth in NBA history among coaches with at least 100 career victories.
But in hiring him, it appears that Lakers management will be go against the wishes of key players like Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, who both endorsed Lakers assistant Brian Shaw. Other finalists included former Houston coach Rick Adelman, Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person and former Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy.
A source close to the Lakers told SI.com’s Sam Amick that , and that he was not a part of the decision-making process.
The choice of Brown appears to be falling in line with the type of coach that Bryant had described during the team’s exit interviews.
“If you’re building a championship team, your DNA always has to start with the defensive end of the floor,” Bryant said earlier this month. ”Always. I’m a firm believer in that. I don’t believe in building a championship team on offense. It has to be built on defense and rebounding. Period.”
Brown has been the most successful of Gregg Popovich’s proteges. And he should bring a defensive bent to a Lakers’ franchise that didn’t play with much fervor during the playoffs.
During his time away from basketball, Brown was an assistant coach on his 13-year-old son’s middle-school football team as he bonded with his family and collected on his settlement with the Cavaliers.
It’s given him perspective as he tackles his new job.
Lakers executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss likes his defensive-minded style. His hiring would also likely mean that Andrew Bynum, another Buss favorite, likely will remain on the roster.
Hiring Brown would enable the Lakers to pinch a few pennies. Team management wants to bring their coaching costs down after playing Phil Jackson the league’s highest coaching salary last season. Brown would likely command about half of Jackson’s rumored $9 million per year salary.
Will Brown be what the Lakers need to return to the form that enabled them to claim the last two NBA titles and has boosted them to the NBA Finals in each of the last three seasons?
It likely will mean the end of Jackson’s preferred “Triangle” offense for a more defensive bent.
It will be interesting to see.